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Real Humans of MBA Students: Stanford GSB Class of 2023

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stanford mba class 2023Jason Gomez, Stanford GSB MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Lake Elsinore, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Harvard University, A.B. Cum Laude in Human Evolutionary Biology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2 years at two early-stage healthcare start-ups; 3 years as a medical student

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I believe healthcare is a fundamental human right, and I’ve devoted my professional career to directly providing that right. Initially, I thought that path only meant medical school, but when it came time to apply to graduate programs as a senior in college, I realized healthcare is a much larger industry and decided to explore other potential careers in the healthcare space. Working for two healthcare startups in San Francisco helped me realize that I could improve access to and the delivery of healthcare via entrepreneurship. At the same time, I interacted with many physicians who were resistant to such innovation because the founders never had direct experience caring for patients. I saw an opportunity to synergize the practice of medicine with the business of healthcare and decided to pursue an MBA in addition to an MD. During medical school, I also ran one of Stanford’s free clinics (Pacific Free Clinic) and ended my tenure there after an early response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Leading a healthcare organization (albeit one much smaller than a hospital) reinforced my desire to sharpen my management skills with an MBA. 

Why did you choose Stanford GSB? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I’m also a Stanford medical student, so I always knew I wanted to stay here. The GSB attracts some of the brightest minds to its MBA program, but it also facilitates collaboration with the brightest minds at Stanford’s six other graduate schools. Attending the GSB empowered me to build a new network of friends and colleagues and maximized the opportunities for me to connect my existing networks at the school of medicine and in Silicon Valley with my new network at the GSB (once again synergizing the business and practice of medicine!).

My greatest barrier to saying yes to the GSB after my admission was the cost; however, Stanford was generous with its need-based financial aid. Moreover, its new Bold Fellows program, which funds students “with financial hardship and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion” further alleviated the financial concerns I had.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
My vulnerability – sharing stories of my upbringing as a low-income, first-generation student; telling classmates about what it was like to be in the hospital throughout the pandemic while others were quarantined; regaling them with brutal honesty about mental health and relationships; reading the homoerotic fanfiction I wrote as a teenager, the list is embarrassingly long – and my ability to be vulnerable while maintaining a sense of humor. Tears and laughter. My greatest contribution to the GSB Class of 2023 (thus far).

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
The fact that I 1) wrote homoerotic fanfiction as a teenager and 2) that I have read it on-stage to hundreds of strangers and roasted my younger self while doing it. I dabble in stand-up comedy. 

Post-MBA career interests:
I’m pursuing a dermatology residency (so my most valuable contribution to the Class of 2023 will be great skin care). I aim to practice at an academic institution (with a focus on skin of color and sexual and gender minorities) so I can help select and train the future generation of dermatologists. I’m also interested in continuing to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities in dermatology and healthcare at large (there’s a theme here). Most recently, I’m interested in healthcare ventures as they provide an opportunity to be a generalist who devotes time and attention to healthcare delivery, digital devices, insurtech, and whatever they find most exciting. I’ll be spending my summer interning at a healthcare venture capital firm. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Talk to people whose careers I admire or who have careers I want. Find out if an MBA is necessary to do that. Talk to students at the GSB. Talk to mentors. Spend time reflecting on what I want to do next and the kind of career and impact I would like to have. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Take advice with a grain of salt (including mine). Even people you respect are only an N of 1. Sometimes, no one quite has the career you want. 

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Imposter syndrome. Meeting current students as a prospective applicant is intimidating. Meeting your peers as an admit is even more intimidating. It was easy to feel like the “mistake” in the admissions process. But there are no mistakes. Trust yourself. Trust the process. Above all, be vulnerable. Odds are you aren’t the only one feeling this way. 

What is your initial impression of the Stanford GSB students/culture/community?
Lady Gaga said it best: “Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference.” The GSB students are some of the most interesting, creative, thoughtful people I have met (and that’s saying a lot given I am coming from medicine). I’ve made friends for life here in a surprisingly short amount of time. 

What is one thing you have learned about Stanford GSB that has surprised you?
Floating duck syndrome. Stanford students are stereotyped to be calm on the outside but furiously paddling beneath the surface. Some paddle faster than others. In academics, in social dynamics (why wasn’t I invited to X?), and in the job hunt. It’s easy to fall into the “How are you? Fine” trap without probing deeper, without being vulnerable yourself. No matter how accomplished, talented, or successful, everyone has insecurities that business school will reignite. At the GSB, I’ve found students welcome vulnerability, match vulnerability in equal measure, and are receptive to feedback about falling into the floating duck trope. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
COVID-19 had a substantial impact on my desire to have an MBA, but had a small impact (thankfully) on my admissions process. Our admit day weekend for our class was virtual, and since then most experiences with the GSB have been in-person (except for a 2-week virtual stint in January).

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Making difficult decisions about how I spend my time and checking in with myself to ensure I am not choosing to participate in X, Y, or Z because my peers are doing it and I feel like I’m falling behind. Stanford has far more opportunities I’m interested in than I could ever accomplish in a lifetime. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
In-person activities, travel, and bonding with my new GSB friends. 

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.